Steelers-Ravens Rematch Headlines AFC North Action
After mixing it up just two weeks ago on Sunday Night Football, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens will take to the field again on Sunday in what is the undisputed highlight of this week’s, and perhaps this season’s, AFC North schedule.
Whilst the Steelers and Ravens are duking it out, both Cleveland and Cincinnati will be taking in the West Coast, challenging Oakland and San Diego respectively. In a unique turn of events, all four AFC North sides will take to the field at 4:25 PM ET on Sunday afternoon.
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5) at Baltimore Ravens (9-2)
Sunday 4:25 PM ET
The Ravens’ 13-10 victory over the Steelers back in Week 11 may not have been pretty but it was effective. Baltimore (9-2, 5-0 home) took another step towards the AFC North title this past weekend with an even uglier win over the San Diego Chargers in overtime. The Ravens are now three games clear of their bitter rivals.
With All-Pro quarterback Ben Roethlisberger out against Baltimore, Pittsburgh (6-5, 2-4 road) would see backup Byron Leftwich injured during the game, leaving third-stringer Charlie Batch to lead the side against Cleveland this past weekend. The Steelers were again on the wrong side of the score sheet, falling 20-14 to the Browns.
This weekend Mike Tomlin and his staff will look to get back to winning ways and halt a three-game losing streak to Baltimore in the process. Pittsburgh’s relentless defense – which ranks in the top five in pass defense, rush defense, and points allowed – proved it could shut down the Ravens two weeks ago, and will look to do similar this weekend.
Baltimore meanwhile will hope that two consecutive weeks of ugly offensive displays can be rectified. Even if they can’t, the side will be expecting a win against the Steelers this weekend. If there’s one thing the Ravens have been good at this season, it’s getting out of close games with a win intact.
Still awaiting news of whether or not Ben Roethlisberger will return from injury and take the field, bookmakers currently have this game off the board. When this line does finally go live, expect the Ravens, unbeaten at home, to be favorites.
Cincinnati Bengals (6-5) at San Diego Chargers (4-7)
Sunday 4:25 PM ET
Whilst the focus will undoubtedly be on Pittsburgh and Baltimore this weekend, Cincinnati (6-5, 3-2 road) will be looking to leapfrog the Steelers on its way up the division standings. A win for the Bengals this weekend will once again put the Ohio side smack bang in the middle of the postseason conversation.
The Bengals will travel to San Diego (4-7, 2-3 home) to take on a Chargers side that has an unthinkable disappointment this season. The Chargers limited success has come mainly at the expense of AFC West division opponents, and losses to both Baltimore and Cleveland will buoy the traveling Bengals.
That being said, San Diego has gone 8-3 in the last 11 meetings between the sides and leads the all-time head-to-head 19-12. The Chargers were victorious the last time the two sides met (2010).
The Superchargers opened as two-point favorites but don’t be surprised if the edge tilts in the favor of the Bengals before kickoff. Neither side has fared well against the spread this season, with Cincinnati registering a 5-5-1 ATS record compared to 5-6-0 ATS for San Diego.
The over/under is 47.5 points. The total has gone over five times in Bengals games this season, but has gone under in each of the last three. The total has also gone over in seven Chargers games.
Cleveland Browns (3-8) at Oakland Raiders (3-8)
Sunday 4:25 PM ET
After defeating the Steelers last weekend, Cleveland (3-8, 0-5 road) will look to make it two in a row for the first time this season. To do so, the Browns will need to beat Oakland (3-8, 2-3 home).
Parity is the name of the game for these two sides. Not only do both arrive at the Oakland Coliseum with a 3-8 record, the two sides also have similar statistics for the season, none of which are anything to write home about.
While Oakland trumps Cleveland in passing yards (273 YPG compared to 212 YPG), Cleveland’s defense has been the more stingy; the Browns have given up a respectable 22.5 points per game, good enough for 16th in the league. Meanwhile, Oakland has given up 32.4 points per game, the league’s low mark.
Oakland leads the all-time head-to-head 13-8 and has won two of the last three, including a 24-17 victory the last time the two sides met (2011). However, Cleveland has won four of the last six.
Oakland’s last win game in a 26-16 ‘upset’ of the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8, a second consecutive victory.
Cleveland opened as a 1.5-point underdog on the road, although such a small margin suggests few bookmakers have complete faith in the Raiders holding onto that home field advantage. The Browns have fared better against the spread this season than straight up, tallying a 6-4-1 ATS record. Oakland has fared less well, covering the spread just three times all season, twice in a winning effort.